{recipe} Fried Cakes

Many people have a specialty in the kitchen. For some, it’s a killer chocolate cake. Others have a meatloaf recipe that cannot be matched. For Mrs. Stiles, it was fried cakes.

What are fried cakes? They are essentially the same thing as Old-Fashioned cake donuts (okay, they are the same thing).

Who is Mrs. Stiles? She was my next-door neighbor growing up, but really, she was a surrogate grandmother to me. While I am lucky that my biological grandmothers and great-grandmothers were/are all loving, caring ladies who treated me very well, I’ve come to find that one can never have too many grandmothers, especially if they make amazing baked goods.

Mrs. Stiles was many things to me. When I lost my house key after school, she invited me in for a sandwich and a glass of milk. She gave me early rides to church so that I made choir practice on time. I mowed her grass every Saturday. When I had a question about our town’s history, she always knew the answer. She would leave her kitchen scraps on the back stoop for my family’s dog (being the picky dog he is, he would eat the meat and spit-out the potatoes and peas). She could do a spot-on German accent to impersonate the old town physician. When I moved away from home, she would send me letters informing me of news and happenings in town and wishing me well in my studies and endeavors. She was more “my family” than many of my actual family members are. My stories and memories of her are endless. I miss her nearly every day.

For all intents and purposes, Mrs. Stiles’ little yellow house was the local bakery. She provided the bread for Communion Sunday. (I think many people came to church those Sundays just for the tiny sample of bread.) Many college kids received pies via post that were lovingly made in her kitchen. Her “Crowd Cake” was a staple at many community functions. But few things carry the notoriety and lore in my town as her fried cakes. She was known in the 200 mile radius of my hometown exclusively for the doughy little morsels of fried goodness. Handymen would gladly accept a few dozen fried cakes in lieu of monetary payment. When she passed away in 2010, an audible groan echoed through the hills and valleys of Central New York, as if the wafting scent of sweet dough bubbling in oil had suddenly faded. Everyone knew some wonderful force was gone from our world.

I’m surprised my parents never divorce by cause of fried cake gluttony. Whoever ate the last fried cake faced serious repercussion. In order to keep the peace, I’ve learned to make fried cakes myself. While I use Mrs. Stiles’ baking mat, rolling pin, and donut cutter, my fried cakes never turn out as perfectly as hers. But they are still pretty dang good. So, without further ado, here is my fried cake recipe.

RECIPE: Fried Cakes
{Makes 18-20 fried cakes, plus holes}

Frying Oil (vegetable or canola are best)
1 cup sugar
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted, cooled butter


  1. Fill your fryer or pot with at least two inches of oil. Heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and flour together.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients and mix together well.
  4. Combine wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined.
  5. Roll dough onto a lightly floured surface until ½-inch thick. Cut out fried cakes. Continue until all the dough is used, and allow the dough to rest for five minutes.
  6. Place a few fried cakes in the frying pan (do not overcrowd!! In my skillet, I can do four fried cakes and eight holes at once). Fry for 3 minutes on one side, then turn using a slotted spoon or a fork and fry until golden on the other side (about 6-8 minutes in total).
  7. Drain fried cakes on a cooling rack with old newspaper underneath (or directly on several layers of newspaper). Eat plain, or cover in cinnamon-sugar.

Are you known for a particular recipe? Or have fond memories of a particular baker? Feel free to share your thoughts and memories!


19 Comments Add yours

  1. Elizabeth says:

    These look completely amazing! If you cover them in cinnamon sugar, do you wait until they cool all the way before you dip them in the sugar?

    1. Deanna says:

      Thanks! I just let them cool a little (maybe 10 minutes? Until they are pretty much drained). I put the cinnamon sugar in a paper bag, then put a few donuts in, then shake shake!

  2. Whoa – I wish I had a Mrs. Stiles! These look awesome – I wish I had one RIGHT NOW!

    I wonder what they would be like if you used leaf lard as the frying oil….

    1. Deanna says:

      She was pretty amazing and I miss her a lot. Let us know if you try the leaf lard… very interesting!

      1. It’s on my list : )

  3. Ona says:

    What a beautiful story for you to share with us… thank you. You had a precious gift in Mrs. Stiles and I love that you are sharing that gift with us – via the story of her and the recipe!!!

    1. Deanna says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story. She definitely was a precious gift (as are these fried cakes… I bring them to my own neighbors now and I think this gesture forgives all neighborly sins, like when my dogs bark in the middle of the night or if I haven’t mowed my lawn in two weeks :-).

  4. Yummy! Doughnut-type delicious fried things. I love this post 😀

  5. Betsy says:

    Lovely story, and the cakes look amazing!

  6. Tammy says:

    My mother used to make those when I was little and i LOVED them. I can’t eat like that any longer but your post brought great memories.

  7. Drake says:

    That wonderful story about Mrs. Stiles was really interesting. Bless her heart.

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